It was while casting about for an MMO to play that a friend suggested I could perhaps look again at Guild Wars, seeing as I intended playing the game’s successor upon its arrival later this year. I’ve tried to get my hook into Guild Wars several times before – the original Prophecies campaign, then Factions, before trying once again with Nightfall sometime after its release, several years ago.
I launched Guild Wars late on Friday evening last week, perched my virtual self on the bank of the computer’s memory, then cast my line lightly and without conviction into the digital depths of the game’s design. What leviathan of immersion rose from the deep I cannot tell, but with gaping maw it took both hook and line and pulled me down, and for the greatest time there was nothing but the beat and surge of it – the primal urgency of that rhythmic stroke sending the creature into the impossible darkness of the infinite. Trapped in the tow, I tumbled along in its wake.
On Monday I managed somehow to disentangle myself from the line, and with desperate resolve kicked myself upwards. I broke the surface of that digital dream, my mind gasping at the marvel of it. My character was at the level cap, and as I pulled myself to the virtual shore I considered my adventure close to complete. I looked back on the distance I had come –the opposite shore of the lake into which that beast of obsession had dragged me was visible on the horizon– and couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed that the journey was almost at an end.
It was then that the aforementioned friend arrived in the guise of a guide. With the kindly chuckle of a parent bemused at the innocent naivety of a child, the guide parted a section of thick vegetation surrounding the lake and bid me look beyond. It revealed to me the extent of my journey thus far, and it was clear: I had but stepped upon the path, and no further. The expansive river of progression stretched out before me, its distributaries of activity branching off in many directions; the sea of possibility followed, wide open and dynamic, stretching all the way to the horizon.
I swept my arm out at the expanse of content in front of us. “I had no idea the game was so huge. I mean, good people have tried to explain… but this… this is unfathomable.”
The guide smiled again, “No, this is just Nightfall. There are two other campaigns to explore after this.”
And so tonight I cast my line once more, and hope that the monstrous exigency of play will rise once again, take hook, and pull me onwards and downwards into the fantastical fathoms of Tyria.